Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, catechist

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Catechist Background and Preparation

To prepare for the session, read all the readings.
Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8
Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 [or 15:3-8, 11]
Luke 5:1-11

Spend a few minutes reflecting on what these readings mean for you today. Was there a particular reading which appealed to you? Was there a word or image that engaged you?

Read the Word in Liturgy and Catholic Doctrine sections. These give you background on what you will be doing this session. Read over the session outline and make it your own. Check to see what materials you will need for the session.

 

The Word In Liturgy

Today’s first reading, from the Book of Isaiah, describes the prophet’s mystical encounter with Yahweh, in which he experienced a divine call to be the Lord’s prophet. The text is a classic expression of the human person’s encounter with what has been called the Absolute Mystery of God, which we find both terrifying and seductively attractive (“Woe is me . . . Here I am; send me!”). The vision of Isaiah is a revelation of the awesome majesty of the infinite God, yet it also discloses a divinity in relationship with human creatures that wishes those creatures to know something of the divine person. The unknowable One offers a glimpse of his divine Being, and in turn directs the prophet to speak to the people God’s own words. This scene captures in powerful fashion the conviction shared by both Judaism and Christianity that we are privileged recipients of the divine self-disclosure we term “revelation,” and that this revelation is passed on to us through the medium of human messengers. (“Whom shall I send?”)

In describing the call of Peter, Luke draws on Mark’s earlier version as well as other sources. The miraculous catch of fish described on this occasion is found in John’s Gospel after the resurrection, not before as here. Instead of Peter receiving an abrupt call from a virtual stranger, Luke has already told of Jesus’ cure of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Here he describes Jesus as having preached “the word of God” (v. 1) from Peter’s boat prior to directing him to set out into “deep water” for a catch (an image perhaps intended for the encouragement of Luke’s community in their efforts to spread the Gospel). Luke is making the point that Christian mission flows from hearing the word of God and from having received Jesus’ call to discipleship. The final phrase of the reading (“they left everything and followed Jesus”) is an important Lucan theme, i.e., that discipleship requires the willingness to renounce everything for the sake of the Gospel.

 

Catholic Doctrine

Tradition

Jesus, a human person, the Son of God, called other persons, his disciples, to follow him in preaching the Gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom of God, to the world. Peter and the others accepted his invitation to follow him and, witnessing his life and mission over a number of years saw Jesus, their teacher and master go to the Cross, after which they experienced him risen from the dead. They fervently preached Jesus as the Crucified, Risen One, the Savior of the world and the definitive revelation of God, until they themselves were martyred. They preached orally, passing on the Good News of Jesus’ life, his works and the significance of his resurrected life, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Eventually they transmitted the Good News in writing, either themselves or those associated with them.

The revelation of God to us is not merely a long-ago event that focuses on the role of those first Apostles. We Catholics believe that while nothing essential is added to the content of revelation, nevertheless we continue even today to deepen our understanding of that unique revelation. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, the God who spoke in the past “continues to converse” with the Church.

There are two ways in which this continuing conversation takes place, through Scripture and Tradition. In an earlier Doctrine section (Third Sunday Ordinary Time), mention was made of Tradition, in that both it and Scripture issue forth from the divine self-revelation of God. But what exactly does the Catholic Church mean by “Tradition?”

In discerning the significance of the good news of Jesus Christ for today’s world, the Church has not been set adrift. We believe that the teaching authority of the original Apostles has been handed on to their successors, the bishops (CCC 77). Through their teaching, the living Gospel is preserved and the truth of that good news is made present to us now.

We have inherited from the Apostles the sacred deposit of the faith, contained in Scripture and Tradition. Tradition, handed on down through the ages in the Church is “everything that serves to make the People of God live their lives in holiness and increase their faith. In this way the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.”

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